Heavy Industry and Ruins Porn

By realitybites · Nov 9, 2013 ·
  1. I am going to share something with you that you may not know about me. I like porn. All kinds of porn. Human fleshy glossies and foodie shots, but most of all, heavy industry and ruins porn. What the heck is that, you ask? It is photography of urban decay... abandoned deindustrialization artifacts such as buildings, factories, houses, bridges, parking lots etc. But not all ruins porn is titillating to me. We all have our preferences right? My niche? Heavy industry, baby! Bring on the blast furnaces, water towers, mine heads--hehe, and cooling towers! Cold hard steel and rust turn me on! Also, I prefer the images to be in black and white and to have no people in them.

    Ruins porn as a concept, was birthed in 2009 when James Griffioen, a photographer and writer for the Detroit blog Sweet Juniper!, posted a series of photos of an abandoned public school. The internet when bonkers for these images. A cottage industry took off. Controversy soon ensued, however, when residents of Detroit complained that this type of photography was exploitative, thus earning the porn addendum. I am not concerned with the politics of ruins porn. Is it merely exploitative or does it have historical value? I'll leave that to those who like to debate such things. I just want to appreciate the aesthetics of it all.

    I suppose the types of photos that intrigue me are not necessarily 'ruins' porn. They may be of factories still in use. An example would be of the cement factory in Jerome AZ. Though, arguably, these images I took are what I would consider to be 'soft' industry porn. They are beautiful and romantic... framed by fluffy clouds and perfect blue skies.

    Ruins porn is a new term but ruins photography has been around for quite a while. I first discovered it back in 2007 when I set eyes on the Editors' sleeve art for the album An End Has a Start.


    [​IMG]


    I was intrigued by the blurry structure in the background. What was it? What was the story behind this image? I had to know. So I researched it. And that first Google search led me on a journey that continues to this day.

    The cover image is a photo manipulation by Idris Kahn. He blended multiple images together to create something new. What images? I wanted, needed to know. Turns out the photos were taken by a husband and wife team from Germany named Bernd and Hilla Becher. Beginning in the late 50s they took thousands of photos of the industrial structures which surrounded them, mainly blast furnaces, cooling towers, mine heads, gas tanks, and water towers. They then categorized them into typologies. These two were pioneers, paving the way for a whole new genre of photography. Their influence can bee seen in the works of current industrial photographers of today.

    These were the cooling towers photos that Idris Kahn used for his blended image...


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    What a turn on! I wanted more, much more. And so I spent a great deal of time taking in all of the Becher's photos. These images are transcending, affecting, arresting. And it isn't just a sensual or visual thing. It is emotional, dare I say, spiritual. I really don't have the vocabulary to describe it. Either you get it or you don't. I hope you do. If so, I think we could be friends. Let's test it out. Do you feel something stir within you, perhaps your very soul is being touched, tossed, and compelled to cry out, when you look at these industrial sculptures?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Apparently I am not the only one who has a fetish for this stuff. Many ruins porn enthusiasts also enjoy taking the photos themselves. I do as well. But I am content taking in the lovely works of others.

    Here are a few more beauties...

    The Maunsell Forts, as you may recall me writing about a little while back...

    [​IMG]

    And another Becher image...

    [​IMG]


    Amazing photos by Uwe Niggemeier...

    Bethlehem Steel - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

    Blast furnaces in your backyard. A cemetery out front. Your whole life is in view. Haunting. Live. Work. Die.

    [​IMG]


    Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel, Mingo Junction

    [​IMG]


    I recommend:

    Edward Burtynsky's documentary Manufactured Landscapes

    Werner Herzog's Lessons of Darkness

    STAHLSEITE
    INDUSTRIEFOTOGRAFIE

    (Uwe Niggemeier)

    Hot Metal Cold Reality

    Tune-in to Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown
    Season Finale: Detroit, Sunday November 10 at 9pm ET/PT

Comments

To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!